Idea 289: FREE Class Set, 4-Way Differentiated Place Value Quiz-Quiz-Trade Cards for Year 3 and 4



I put a fair bit of time into making a whole-class set of 30 quiz-quiz-trade cards for place value, using a wide range of images and representations, so I thought I’d share it here.

With the range of choice of questions, you can use this with Year 3 or Year 4 no problem. The cards cover most of the National Curriculum Place Value objectives such as representing number in different ways, as well as estimating numbers and ordering and comparing them.

Print off the resource and give one page to each pupil. Then ask them to fold their sheet once down the middle. They will end up with 4 differentiated questions on one side and the matching answers on the back (I’ve added in tips and explanations for how you might find each answer too).

That’s it! No cutting or fiddling needed.

Children use the cards to play ‘Quiz Quiz Trade’, where they mix around and then pair up with another pupil. They choose one question each to answer in turn from their partner’s sheet and then they swap cards and find somebody else to pair with.

Full explanation of Quiz Quiz Trade here.

This activity is lot more engaging for pupils than simply giving a mental maths test or chucking a worksheet at them, plus children get instant feedback if they got an answer right or wrong AND you don’t have a stack of marking afterwards! Children love to be up and about, pairing up with classmates and quizzing each other! I do Quiz Quiz Trade at least twice a week in Maths.

This style of quick review takes advantage of the ‘spacing effect’, which helps to embed learning long-term.

NOTE: If there are any mistakes do please let me know and I’ll fix them.

CREDIT: I used the great smartboard resources provided by White Rose Maths to create the visuals used on these cards.

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Year 2 ‘Poetry for Spelling’: FREE Complete Collection with Curriculum Links Included!

poemcollection poemcollection2poemcollection3


Success! I’ve finally finished writing a poem to match with all of the 30 statutory spelling requirements for Year 2 featured in the spelling appendix for the National Curriculum!

All the poems are designed to highlight lots of examples of one particular spelling rule in a fun, memorable and child-friendly way. Hopefully this ‘poetry for spelling’ approach will allow you to fit in a bit of reading comprehension and discussion on the conventions of poetry at the same time as presenting spelling in an interesting new way.

Included in this download is a table linking all the poems to the relevant Year 2 statutory requirements.

The poems are available for download for free use for educational purposes (not for re-sale or commercial use!). You could use these poems as the basis for a spelling scheme of work (one poem per lesson, children writing on whiteboards) or perhaps print some or all of them as a booklet to give to children to read at home or in class over the course of the year. You could also use this resource to dip into if you feel there is a particular spelling rule that your class need to go back and revisit.

NOTE: I’ve had a very thorough check, but if you find any typos or formatting issues please do let me know in the comments and I’ll fix them.

If you love poetry, then consider buying a book of poetry by Michael RosenSteve Turner or Allan Ahlberg to read to your children.

Posted in Poetry, Resources Included | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Idea 288: FREE Poem Resource for Spelling ‘zh’ sound as ‘s’



A poem I wrote to teach Year 2 statutory requirement “The /ʒ/ sound spelt s”.

Like poetry? Then consider buying a book of poetry by Michael RosenSteve Turner or Allan Ahlberg to read to your children.

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Idea 287: FREE Poem Resource for ‘J’ at start of words before a,o and u.



This is a poem I wrote to teach the Year 2 statutory requirement “The /dʒ/ sound spelt as ge and dge at the end of words, and sometimes spelt as g elsewhere in words before e, i and y” where the guidance says “The /d /ʒ sound is always spelt as j before a, o and u.”

Like poetry? Then consider buying a book of poetry by Michael RosenSteve Turner or Allan Ahlberg to read to your children.

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Idea 286: FREE Resources and Input for Completing Multiplication Grid Task




Here’s some resources for an idea I shared a while back which I’ve just done again this year.

I showed my class a multiplication grid, explained what it was and then proceeded to fill it in, taking suggestions from the class and having lots of pauses so that the children could discuss what they noticed. I tried to make several points to them, including:

-Times tables get easier to learn the more you know, as when you learn a new times table you will already know some facts in it! For example, when you learn the 7 times table you already know that 7×2 is 14, you already know 7×10 is 10, you already know 7×5 is 35!

-I highlighted to the children that squared numbers form a diagonal line across the grid. On either side of the squared numbers you get a mirror image forming.

-The 4 times table is linked closely with the 2 times table.

-The 10 times table is linked closely with the 5 times table.

-The 6 times table is linked closely with the 3 times table.

-The 9 times table has a pattern in its numbers. Can they see what it is?

After I completed the grid on the board, I sent my children off in pairs to complete their own grid. The rule was that they should use one pencil between two to fill in the grid and that they needed to swap over who used the pencil after writing each number in. Once complete, children used a pre-printed multiplication grid to check all their answers and then looked at answering some extension questions about what they had noticed.

I’ve found this to be a really effective lesson near the end of Year 2.

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Idea 285: FREE Poem Resource for Teaching ‘shun’ sound spelt ‘tion’.



This is a poem I wrote to help teach the Year 2 statutory requirement of “words ending in -tion”.

Like this? Then consider buying a book of poetry by Michael RosenSteve Turner or Allan Ahlberg to read to your children.

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Idea 284: FREE Poem Resource for Teaching ‘ee’ sound spelt ‘ey’.



This is a poem I wrote to teach the Year 2 statutory requirement “the /i:/ sound spelt –ey.”

Like this? Then consider buying a book of poetry by Michael RosenSteve Turner or Allan Ahlberg to read to your children.

Posted in English, Poetry, Resources Included | Leave a comment

My Top Dice Games and Tips for Year 2


I absolutely LOVE dice games in Maths! The children really enjoy them and get lots of practice in all-important quick mental maths. Below is a list of games that I’ve either seen elsewhere and used with great success or which I’ve invented myself (primary teachers are a creative if strange lot!).

As much as possible I try and design games so that they are played for x amount of time before a winner is declared. This means you can set a timer for 3 minutes and know that everyone will be playing up until the time limit, with no children finishing early and then coming to you saying ‘I’m finished, what do I do now???’


NOTE: If you want to play these games, I HIGHLY recommend getting some soft foam dice which don’t clatter when rolled! For extra challenge later on in the year when you want the children to be working with abstract numbers rather than dots, I highly recommend buying some ten-sided dice too. They are so versatile you will definitely get your money’s worth.



Don’t Roll a 6!


In its most simple form, you roll one die again and again, adding up the total. When you roll a 6, you are bust and you have to start again from 0! How high can you get before you go bust??? This game is BRILLIANT for teaching the reason we use tallies, as children can tally their score as they go and then count up in fives to find their total when they go bust.

How I play the game: Children play in pairs. They take turns rolling the die while the other child in the pair tallies up the score on a whiteboard. Every time a 6 is rolled, the children work out their total score and store it on their whiteboard. After 1-2 minutes of play, I’ll stop the class and we’ll see what kind of high score people managed. Children can also choose to play this game competitively, where they take turns rolling the die and they add the total to their own score. After 1-2 minutes, the person with the highest total in the pair wins. This is fun as even if you are in the lead at one point of the game, all it takes is rolling a 6 at the last minute to wipe you out!


Quickfire Dice!


Super easy game to play, though be prepared for your classroom to get VERY loud! Children play competitively in pairs. They take turns to roll one die. They have to look at the number on the die and work out and say the number bond to 10. So if you roll a 1, the first person to shout ‘9!’ would win a point! Play for 1-2 minutes. If partners say the number at the exact same time then they both get a point.

Best played with children with similar Maths levels, so when the children come to me on the carpet fo find a partner, I’ll usually pair them off with someone I know will make for a close game.

This is a very versatile game, as you can move onto the children saying the number bond to 20. You could also have them say one more or one less than what the die shows.


Minion Maths!

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Partner game. Roll two dice. Subtract the smaller number from the larger. This is how many points you get to add to your score.

TWIST: If both numbers are the same (so if say you rolled two 3s), then the first person to shout ‘MINIONS!’ wins the sum of the dice (so in this case, 6 points!). This keeps children focused on the game even when it isn’t their turn. With a class of 30 this means that you’ll hear quite a few yells of ‘MINIONS!’ as the games progress. If both children shout ‘MINIONS!’ at the exact same time, they can play one round of ‘rock-paper-scissors’ to decide the winner. Play for 2-3 minutes, then the person with the highest score wins the round.


Nearest to 99!


Based on an idea I saw on Facebook that I’ve been perfecting in my class over the last few lessons. This is a partner game or can be played in larger groups.

The goal is to get the score closest to 99 without going over and going ‘bust’. Children HAVE to take six rolls of a dice. On each roll, they can choose whether they want the number rolled to be counted as a tens number or a ones number before being added to their total. So if I rolled a 6 I could choose to have it count as sixty, or six.

My children love this game and it’s great for teaching them estimation and getting them thinking about what they might roll next and trying to come up with a strategy. It’s great fun when you’re playing and you’re on 94 BUT you still have 2 more rolls to have to take! Can you keep your score under 99 or will you go bust???

SPECIAL RULE: Once per game, a child is allowed to re-roll one die. This adds a bit of tension when you get near the end of the game as if you are on 97 you might roll a 3 and go bust, so you re-roll and hope for a 1 or 2!

NOTE: If by some chance the game ends and both children have landed on the exact same number or gone bust at the same time, have them roll a die to decide the game. Highest score takes the win!

EXTENSION: Have the children start at 99 and they have to subtract the numbers they roll. If they go below 0 they are bust!


Football Dice!

The most complex game that takes longer to teach, but due to the football connection it’s very popular! Great for adding together 3 single-digit numbers. Full idea here.



TOP TIP 1: With every dice game, model it on the smartboard at the front of class, playing against one of the children. Do this once or twice then get the children playing in pairs for maximum engagement.

TOP TIP 2: Typically I have children play a dice game for 2-3 minutes, then I’ll say ‘partner who is nearest to me, please come and stand in front of me’. Whilst half the class assembles on the carpet in front of me, the other half of the class who are sat at tables clean off their whiteboards and get ready for a new partner. When the standing partners are all gathered in front of me, they are sent off to choose a different partner for the next round of the game. Next time round I’ll say ‘partner who is furthest from me, please come and stand in front of me’. This gives the other half of the class the chance to walk and find a new partner.

TOP TIP 3: With any competitive game, I always make the children turn to their partner and say ‘good game!’ after they have played a round with them. When I am modelling games I always make a big deal of the fact that the games are for fun, no-one is going to get a million pounds if they win or lose, so let’s enjoy ourselves and be happy playing a fun game!

TOP TIP 3: Have children use resources to support them if needed. Number lines, rulers, hundred squares, counters, number bond reference sheets, etc.

TOP TIP 4: If you have an odd number of pupils, don’t worry. Have one pupil per round become a ‘little teacher’ and set them the job of patrolling the classroom and watching children playing. They are allowed to choose one pair who are playing well together and showing good manners and sportsmanship to receive a reward/cheer/team point. This helps keep the rest of the class on-task. In fact, I like this monitor system so much I will sometimes remove one pair per round from playing in order to have them do some ‘patrolling’ for me.

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Idea 283: FREE Poem Resource for Teaching ‘Or’ Sound Spelt as ‘a’ Before ‘l’ or ‘ll’, ‘Best Friends’



This is a poem I wrote to teach the Year 2 statutory requirement regarding: “The / :/ ɔ sound spelt a before l and ll” where the guidance is “The / :/ɔ sound (‘or’) is usually spelt as a before l and ll.”

Like this? Then consider buying a book of poetry by Michael RosenSteve Turner or Allan Ahlberg to read to your children.

Posted in English, Poetry, Resources Included | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

My Top Primary Teacher Buys (Particularly Year 2!)


Stapleless Staplers

I love these and they really seem to amaze other teachers! They make a great gift for teachers too. They work by punching a small hole and then folding paper back through itself to bind sheets together. Never run out of staples again and never worry about an errant staple accidentally jabbing one of your children! I often let my class use my staplers to fold over an A4 sheet and seal it up to make an envelope or a pouch.

NOTE: These staplers work best for stapling a few sheets of paper together, they don’t work well for making thicker booklets.




Retractable Pencils

This is the first year I’ve given some of my pupils retractable pencils and it’s really made a big difference to their handwriting. I found this worked really well with the pupils I had this year who were digging too hard into the paper like they were doing some type of engraving!



Soft Dice

My goodness, I love these foam dice! They can be used by your class all at the same time without a load of clattering noises piercing your ears! I do LOADS of dice games in Maths and these dice fit the bill perfectly. Consider some ten-sided dice to stretch higher-achieving children.




Storymatic Kids

This was a new buy for me this year which I put in my challenge area. I modelled it with some of the children and they really took to it! The basic idea of the game is that you pull out a couple of yellow cards and a blue card and use this to write a story, adding further cards for inspiration as you go. The children in my class now write spontaneous stories on whiteboards or scrap paper all the time!




Poetry Books!

Every day after lunch I read a poem to my class and these are the books that can’t be beat! There’s Please Mrs Butler, The Day I Fell Down The Toilet and Michael Rosen’s Book of Silly Poems (though note a lot of the poems aren’t by him, he just collected them here). Also there’s I Like This Poem which is brilliant and has all the classic poems grouped by ages; my class won an award for their recitation of ‘Outdoor Song’ from this book.




Story Cubes

Another way to get the children discussing stories and generating ideas. Children roll the dice and then integrate whatever they have rolled on the dice into a story. This can just be verbal or written on a whiteboard. A challenge area favourite!



The Rather Small Turnip

This is one of my top recommends for Year 2 teachers. The story is based on more and more people getting involved in a chain which, you guessed it, means some great opportunities for commas in a list sentences! This will mean nothing if you aren’t a Year 2 teacher but it’s one of the Greater Depth statements to be covered in the Interim Assessment Framework at Year 2. Also there’s lots of reference to “the farmer’s wife” which can be used to work in possessive apostrophes, another Greater Depth statement! It’s also great for expanded noun phrases as you can have your class change the vegetable in their own version of the story and have things like “The Awfully Smelly Carrot”.




Picture Puzzle Cards

Another challenge area favourite! Wipe-clean puzzles which my children love to challenge themselves with.



The Minpins

Quite an unknown Dahl story but great fun. It centres around tiny people who live in the woods inside trees who are called Minpins. We read the story as a class, then the children investigate our local area and see if they can find Minpins. Wouldn’t you know it, they do! The Minpins then leave the children a letter saying they’re thinking of moving on to somewhere safer/quieter and the children have to write letters back convincing the Minpins to stay, particularly by saying how they can help out the Minpins. A really good piece of extended writing that the children I’ve taught always thoroughly enjoy. This year I went all out and took a picture of the children’s letters and printed out tiny versions. The children coloured bright envelopes and put their letters inside and we left them out in the woods near our school. The next day I went out with my iPad and filmed myself ‘discovering’ that the letters had been moved and opened! The reaction from the children was amazing. I ‘found’ a final letter where the Minpins said that they’d decided to stay! HUZZAH!



No Stick Whiteboard Sheets

I got a roll of this stuff last year and it’s great! It’s held in place by static so you can put it on the walls or on glass or wherever! I put five sheets together and made an interactive English display where I write vocabulary children need in their writing, using a different pen colour depending on what type of word it is (noun, verb etc). Always gets mentioned if someone new comes into my classroom.


Hand Clapper for Attention

I use this, a bell, hand claps, all sorts of things to signal I want the attention of everyone in the class. Follow the link and I think they have a package deal on Amazon of a hand clapper, a horn and something else.



Big Dice with Pockets

Very versatile. You can put in cards with sounds you are doing, or numbers (numerals or words), or you can move this up and put a different plenary question in each pocket and use this to ask a random review question at the end of the lesson like ‘what is the most important thing you learned in this lesson?’ or ‘can you link what you have learned today to something you already knew? How is it the same? How is it different?’.




Whiteboard stand-up refills

This is a great way to make whiteboard pens last longer. These are refill pots (the one pictured is for blue pens as that’s what my school uses on whiteboards to be dyslexia-friendly) that you stand a pen in and leave overnight to suck up the ink, ready for further use.


Evidence-Based Teaching

Teachers don’t get much free time to do further reading, but I highly, highly recommend this book to you if you do want to improve your practice and are looking for new ideas. It’s scientifically-based and focuses not on merely good but THE BEST things to do in your teaching. This has been one of the books that has had the biggest impact on improving the way I teach, along with reading about Kagan Cooperative Learning.


Growth Mindset Pocketbook

Growth mindset is the ‘in thing’ at the moment in primary schools in the UK which I think is a great idea. If you haven’t heard of it, you NEED to buy this book. Again, this is a concept which has had a huge positive impact on the way I teach.

Posted in Miscellaneous | 2 Comments